Stakeholder Involvement in Evaluation: Does it Affect Observers’ Perceptions of an Evaluation? And Which Stakeholder Group(s) Do People Think Should to Participate?

Melvin M. Mark, Julian B. Allen, Joshuah L. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Stakeholders are often involved in evaluation, such as in the selection of specific research questions and the interpretation of results. Except for the topic of whether stakeholder involvement increases use, a paucity of research exists to guide practice regarding stakeholders. Objectives: We address two questions: (1) If a third-party observer knows stakeholders were involved in an evaluation, does that affect the perceived credibility, fairness, and relevance of the evaluation? (2) Among individuals with a possible stake in an evaluation, which stakeholder group(s) do they want to see participate; in particular, do they prefer that multiple stakeholder groups, rather than a single group, participate? Research Design: Six studies are reported. All studies address the former question, while Studies 3 to 5 also focus on the latter question. To study effects of stakeholder involvement on third-party views, participants read summaries of ostensible evaluations, with stakeholder involvement noted or not. To examine a priori preferences among potential stakeholders, participants completed a survey about alternative stakeholder group involvement in an evaluation in which they would likely have an interest. Results and Conclusions: Across studies, effects of reported stakeholder participation on third-parties’ views were not robust; however, small effects on perceived fairness sometimes, but not always, occurred after stakeholder involvement and its rationales had been made salient. All surveys showed a large preference for the involvement of multiple, rather than single stakeholder groups. We discuss implications for research and practice regarding stakeholder involvement, and for research on evaluation more generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-190
Number of pages25
JournalEvaluation Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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